The state has operated COVID-19 vaccination clinics in Wilmington high-rise buildings, as well as senior facilities in Kent and Sussex counties to reach underserved communities. Courtesy Delaware Health and Social Services
DOVER – To reach underserved populations with the COVID-19 vaccine, vaccination clinics were held last week at targeted senior facilities in Kent County and Sussex Counties, as well as high-rise apartment complexes in Wilmington.
With the support of the federal government, state officials also supplied pharmacies, hospitals and state-approved health centers in these areas.
Governor John Carney said he sees this oversimplifying what vaccine distribution statistics should look like in Delaware.
“It should look like our state,” said Governor Carney at the state’s COVID-19 briefing earlier this week. “It should reflect the population of our state.”
“This is a scarce public good,” added Governor Carney. “A life-saving vaccine that needs to be given quickly and fairly. That is our goal. “
Beebe Healthcare hosted one of these clinics in Rehoboth Beach on Saturday thanks to many local partners and churches. Since the vaccine distribution began, Beebe has worked with several community organizations to reach these target communities. The biggest event happened on January 31, when she worked with the First State Community Action Agency and La Esperanza to vaccinate nearly 300 parishioners in Georgetown.
“Supporting underserved populations goes a long way towards improving the health of our entire community. We shop in the same shops, eat in the same restaurants and our children go to the same schools,” said Dr Dr David A. Tam, President and CEO of Beebe Healthcare. “Beebe Healthcare’s mission is to improve the health of all who live, work and visit in Sussex County because we are all in it together.”
At 11:59 p.m. Friday, the majority of those who received a vaccine dose were white with 80,736 doses – 57% of the total doses given. Another 30,470 administered doses were reported as an “unknown” race on the Delaware Division of Public Health’s vaccine tracker – 22% of the total.
Governor Carney recently issued an emergency order to address the problem of unknown racing data. The ordinance requires vaccination providers to report full demographic information to DelVAX, the government vaccination information system, within 24 hours of a vaccine being administered. Failure to comply with these data reporting requirements can result in fines for providers and a reduction in vaccine allocation.
The sales figures in the black community have increased slightly in the last week and a half. It was less than 5% of the total but is now 7.36 with 10,362 doses out of the 140,965 doses administered.
Asian / Pacific Islander (3,225) and Hispanic / Latino (2,959) each received 2% of the total doses. According to the DPH’s vaccine tracker, 13,213 doses (9%) were administered to the “other / multiple” race population.
Last week, two new federal government programs were announced to address racial disparities in vaccine distribution. One of them is the focus on pharmacies in underserved areas. Delaware is giving Walgreens additional doses in certain zip codes under these guidelines while the other is an increased allocation to FQHCs in those areas, which Governor Carney said the state has already done.
“I believe that both efforts are aimed at fairer distribution,” said Governor Carney.
DPH currently operates vaccination clinics in Wilmington high-rise complexes. These began on February 4th and should continue until next Tuesday.
It has also partnered with Bayhealth for clinics in senior centers in underserved areas of Kent County, which began Thursday and will last a week.
“As the leading regional health care provider, Bayhealth is committed to providing doses of the COVID-19 vaccine to our community whenever possible from our state and federal partners,” said Michael Metzing, vice president of corporate support services at Bayhealth, in an explanation. “Fundamental to our mission as a local non-profit healthcare system is ensuring the safety and wellbeing of our neighbors is a top priority. So far we have held several weekend clinics to vaccinate community members. To date, we have given more than 1,400 doses to people in our community who meet criteria 1A and 1B. We also work closely with local community leaders to identify underserved members and members of the minority community and ensure they have access to the vaccine if they so choose. “
Both Governor Carney and Beebes Dr. Tam reflected on their experience of ensuring adequate COVID-19 testing in all communities over the past year, in the hope that vaccine distribution could follow a similar model.
“There was no access to testing in certain low-income minority communities in our state,” said Governor Carney. “If you look at our data dashboard now, you will find that the testing rate among these populations is higher than that of the Caucasian population in our state, which means that our reach and response to this legitimate concern is the issues related to the test page. “
“Beebe Healthcare is proud to serve all of Sussex County’s communities,” said Dr. Tam in a statement. “We know there are health disparities across Delaware and we are determined to fill that void by working with many organizations to make sure no one is left behind. When a COVID-19 hotspot developed in Georgetown in April 2020, a large group quickly worked together to clear up the virus, run tests, and stop the virus from spreading. Now, under the guidance of the state, our focus is on making the vaccine available to all who meet Phase 1A and 1B criteria, including using community partners to ensure that those who may be faced with obstacles such as language, disability, When faced with transportation, housing or internet access, they will have fair access to the vaccine. “
Dr. Karyl Rattay, DPH director, said the DPH had reached out to community officials to provide all information about the safety of the vaccine and possible side effects.
You have also helped the DPH set up clinics in these underserved communities.
“It’s so important to the work we do,” said Dr. Rattay. “To make sure we meet those who have difficult access to vaccines where they are.”